The University’s softball team bolstered its coaching roster by adding Jessica Allister and Lisa Dodd this month to assist head coach Mike White in the program’s redemption.
White made the final decision on the two new assistant coaches.
“We took a poll of candidates and finalized it down to several well-qualified candidates, and then we made choices from there,” he said.
Dodd assisted at Nevada last season and worked as an undergraduate assistant coach at UCLA in 2008. Allister comes to the University after three seasons on staff at Stanford and assisting for two seasons at Georgia.
“She knows the Pac-10 Conference in and out, which of course is a very tough conference,” White said of Allister. “Her knowledge of the conference and the players, not only for recruiting but for competing against them, is very valuable to our program.”
White also had nothing but praise for Dodd and her insights into UCLA.
“She did a student’s assistant there as a fifth year, and learned the ins and outs of their program, which has been very successful over a number of years,” he said.
“It’s really exciting coming into a new coaching staff,” Allister said. “I’ve known coach White through the softball world for awhile. He’s a very well-respected coach throughout the softball community, and I’m excited to work for and learn from him.”
The new coaching staff is still in the first couple of weeks, so there might be the challenge of everybody getting to know each other while coaching a softball team, but no one is too worried.
“I’m very confident that it’s going to head in the right direction,” Dodd said. “Obviously you hit obstacles in your first few years, when you’re getting to know the community and the way things work.”
They will utilize their experience and youth through a collaborative approach. White is a Hall-of-Fame pitcher, while Allister and Dodd are versatile coaches.
“We’ll branch into different areas,” White said. “I’ll probably specialize in pitching, and Jessica will specialize in catching and outfield play and Lisa will specialize in infield and pitching.”
Hitting will be one aspect that receives an especially collaborative approach.
“I’ve got a chance to work with a lot of great hitters, and with some great hitting coaches,” Allister said of her time at Georgia. “I’ll definitely draw from both those experiences.”
While each of the coaches might have specialties, they will not get stuck in any stylistic ruts, says White.
“One of the things I know about fast-pitch is that it’s always changing; it’s very dynamic,” White said. “We can’t afford to be stagnant or just have one style. We’ve got to keep changing and evolving.”
These new coaches take on a team that went 16-34 last season. It’s a fluke to many who have gotten used to Oregon being a reasonably successful team, even in the highly competitive Pac-10.
“We can make it to the postseason,” Dodd said. “We can be successful in the Pac-10 and make it to regionals, and within the next three to five years, be at that World Series.”
White was more definitive in his assessment of what the team can do. He wants immediate, exponential improvement in wins this season.
“Last year we had three, and this year I’d like to get seven,” he said. “I think that’s a good goal to start with. Let’s get a third of wins.”